Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
What’s In Store For The Next VA Chief? Let’s Break It Down
It’s been an awkwardly long time coming, but as of yesterday afternoon embattled Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin is out of a job. The news comes after a month and a half of uncertainty that began when a scathing inspector general report detailed “serious derelictions” in expensing a Europe trip last summer. And then there were all the accusations and counter accusations of political infighting and rumors of possible replacements — at least all that is over:
....In the interim, Hon. Robert Wilkie of DOD will serve as Acting Secretary. I am thankful for Dr. David Shulkin’s service to our country and to our GREAT VETERANS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the president’s appointed White House physician, who drew national attention when he complimented President Trump on his “incredibly good genes,” has been tapped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs — pending approval by the Senate. Given that this leadership post has been described as “one of the most difficult jobs in government” — which has stymied generals, CEOs and health care executives — we thought it was time to give you a rundown of what’s in store for the next officeholder, by the numbers:
More than 1,243 health care facilities. These Veterans Health Administration facilities include 170 VA Medical Centers, and 1,063 outpatient sites — making it the largest health care system in the United States.
9,000,000 veterans. That’s the number who receive medical care from VA, and many of these patients are older and suffer from multiple traumas and injuries that require specialized care: amputations, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and as of 2013, half of all VA patients suffer from chronic pain, to name just a few. And as many as 2 million patients receive in-facility care, according to an American Legion statement.
20,000,000 veterans in the United States… we think. There could be far more veterans than we realize, since an individual’s military history isn’t tracked by the census bureau, which is a concern since the VA relies on an accurate headcount of its target population to get a feel for the size and scope of the services it needs to provide.
$10,000,000,000 contract for Electronic Health Records. A long-term plan to modernize the VA’s health records system could be in jeopardy, with Shulkin’s dismissal coming just as the VA was set to finalize the acquisition of a new electronic health record system.
2nd largest federal agency. The only one bigger is the Department of Defense.
$186,000,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2018.
360,000 employees spread across three separate administrations within the department; the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefit Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration.
23 years active duty. Jackson’s Navy career began in 1995, and includes postings as an instructor, diving medical officer, diving safety officer, from Panama City, Florida Sigonella, Italy, to Norfolk, Virginia. By 2005 he deployed to Taqaddum, Iraq as part of a Surgical Shock Trauma platoon.
3 presidents. While still in Iraq in 2006, Jackson was selected as a White House physician and served as the supervising physician for the Camp David Presidential Retreat under the George W. Bush administration. Later he led the White House Medical Unit as its director and was the appointed White House physician for Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Soon to be 7 VA secretaries in 4 years. The department has been beset by turmoil and scandal. Eric Shinseki resigned from his post as VA chief following the 2014 wait-list scandal the department. Since then, the VA has gone through three sitting secretaries, and is on its third acting secretary, with Robert Wilkie, previously the Pentagon’s undersecretary of personnel and readiness, now tasked as the interim chief until Shulkin’s replacement is approved by the Senate.
White supremacist Coast Guard officer who allegedly plotted mass violence imprisoned ahead of fresh charges
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump claims border wall is under construction 'right now' using fence repair footage from 5 months ago
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
Group of American vets detained in Haiti on weapons charges brought back to US, arrested upon landing
A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.
The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.